When even the Victor Meldrew of Ambient Glam declares it ‘a triumph’, clearly something’s gone right.
Tuesday’s Bush Hall gig fulfilled most of our more positive wishes for it, with the shabbily elegant venue bearing witness to four fine performances and an interesting reunion or three.
After a gruelling four and a half hour journey to our Nation’s capital (including a less than glamorous couple of hours in which the T-Bo mobile seemed permanently rooted to the spot somewhere near the Brent Cross shopping centre), soundchecks were severely curtailed and a potential disaster was looming.
London, choked with traffic and awash with constant rain, seemed to be getting the better of us yet again.
Luckily, courtesy of some excellent work from The Butler, things got on track just in time for doors opening.
First up was a strong 20 minute set from die mensch maschine, Markus.
Utilising laptop and Touch guitar, Markus’ set effortlessly moved from hypnotic glitch atmospherics to full-blown guitar soloing via the odd snatch of Centrozoon’s ‘I Once Loved You’.
Then came Richard Barbieri’s inspired keyboard-heavy capers.
Driving rhythms and synth textures collided to create a more powerful, sometimes funkier, extension of his recent ‘Things Buried’ album. The untitled improv that closed his slot was perhaps the highlight for me.
If, as Richard B himself claimed, his music was slightly too tough for the venue, it became obvious fairly quickly that My Hotel Band were ideally suited to making ‘music for chandeliers’.
After a good, but tense ‘World Afraid’ and ‘Last Year’s Tattoo’, things sharply improved with potent versions of ‘The Me I Knew’ and ‘Unprotected’ (now radically abstracted from the original studio performance).
A poised and evocative ‘Days Turn Into Years’ (a track that resonated well in the faded opulence of the surroundings), was followed by Morgan The Bass providing some unexpectedly odd notes in the verse of a rather tentative ‘Ian McShane’.
However, the best moments were to come with the band’s unique readings of Centrozoon’s ‘Make Me Forget’ and No-Man’s ‘Together We’re Stranger’ (replete with a new vocal loop coda).
As usual, Dr Bearpark’s guitar noodling and the Booker Boy’s inventive electro-drumming were sublime. MTB (McShane aside) and Lord Chilvers were rock solid and Stephen Bennett’s synth additions were far more effective and prominent than they were at The Spitz. As for me, I actually had a working voice this time and hopefully, used it well.
As soon as we were on, it seemed that we were gone.
We were shortly replaced by Anathema’s melancholic acoustic rock (shades of The Verve, Jeff Buckley and Porcupine Tree), bolstered on this particular evening by some fine cello playing.
With a decent-sized crowd giving decent and equal applause for all the artists, this was one of the most satisfying Burning Shed promotions to date.
Post-gig reunions with Mike Bennion, Steve W, Ben Coleman and Chris Wild (once upon a time, No-Man’s Bez) were captured on camera by the ever resourceful Carl Glover.
Reactions were very positive with One Little Indian’s staff, Chris Roberts (Uncut), Dave Ling (Classic Rock) and various fans (including the soon to be married ‘sons of Sheffield’, and a Swiss contingent) all coming over to praise rather than to bury.
A perfect coda to the event occurred when at 3am, Cambridge time, the posh prince of much hair, Lord Chilvers himself, was unceromoniously accosted by the rozzers.
Quickly realising that they were in the presence of a friend of Prince Harry and a true blue-blooded regal chav, the police released Lord C and civic order in Cambridgeshire was soon restored.
The caviar industry breathes a sigh of relief.